Firefighters chip trees for Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society causes in 2015. (File photo)

Firefighters chip trees for Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society causes in 2015. (File photo)

Tree-chipping for charity at two Surrey malls Saturday, Jan. 8

Tree chipping for charity will be done at Surrey’s two largest shopping malls on Saturday (Jan. 8).

Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society’s annual tree-chip event will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Guildford Town Centre, in a lot near 105 Avenue and 150 Street. Cash donations will be collected by the firefighters, who have hosted the event since 1994.

“On average, nearly $5,000 is donated each year,” notes a post on surreyfirefighters.com. “There was a time when burning Christmas trees was the status quo, however, the City of Surrey led the way in being environmentally friendly establishing burning by-laws, hence the ‘Tree Chip’ name was born.”

The tree-chip event benefits youth and family programs backed by Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society.

Also on Saturday, Central City Shopping Centre’s east parking lot, off King George Boulevard, is the site of a tree-chip event hosted by Surrey Central Lions Club, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Minimum donation is $5 per tree, with proceeds to Surrey Food Bank. Barlett Tree Experts will chip the trees, says a post on centralcity.ca.

In Surrey, Christmas trees can be placed in organics carts for residential curbside pickup. “Before putting your tree in your organics bin, the tree must be cut up into pieces no bigger than 3ft long,” explains a post on surrey.ca. “Remove all tinsel, lights, decorations, tree stands and plastic bags from Christmas trees prior to disposal.”

Meantime, the Nature Conservancy of Canada suggests leaving your old Christmas tree in your backyard – as a gift to wildlife.

In 2019, Dan Kraus, the organization’s senior conservation biologist, said leaving the tree in your backyard over the winter can provide “many benefits” for backyard wildlife, as the tree can provide “important habitat for bird populations during the winter months, especially on cold nights and during storms.”

He suggests propping it up near another tree, against a fence or lay it in your garden. Get the family involved by redecorating it with pine cones filled with peanut butter, strings of peanuts and suet for birds to enjoy while they find shelter in the tree.

“Evergreens offer a safe place for birds to rest while they visit your feeder,” Kraus said in a news release. “Another benefit is that if you leave the tree in your garden over the summer, it will continue to provide habitat for wildlife and improve your soil as it decomposes.”

By spring, he noted, the tree will have lost most of its needles, resembling a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree. Simply cut the tree branches, lay them where spring flowers are starting to emerge in your garden and place the trunk on soil, but not on top of the flowers.

Kraus says the tree branches and trunk can provide habitat, shelter wildflowers, hold moisture and help build the soil, mimicking what happens with dead trees and branches in a forest. Toads will seek shelter under the log, and insects, including pollinators such as carpenter bees, will burrow into the wood.

“By fall, the branches and trunk will begin to decompose and turn into soil,” Kraus explained. “Many of our Christmas trees, particularly spruce and balsam fir, have very low rot resistance and break down quickly when exposed to the elements. The more contact the cut branches and trunk have with the ground, the quicker it will decompose. Drilling holes in the tree trunk will speed up that process.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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Charity and DonationsChristmas tree